Dana Dimel took the lessons he learned working for Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder about turning around a losing football program to his head coaching jobs at Wyoming and Houston, and he will put that experience to use a third time as the head coach at Texas-El Paso.
“What I saw at Kansas State was the positive leadership it takes, the team unity and player leadership to make a program right and make each other accountable,” Dimel, who was named UTEP’s 26th head coach on Wednesday, said Thursday at his introductory press conference in El Paso. “I saw what was so important to make that transition. I implemented that in both programs I had. I know I’m very qualified to do it again here.”
Dimel, K-State’s offensive coordinator, takes over a UTEP program that was 0-12 this past season, the only winless team among 130 FBS teams. Sean Kugler resigned Oct. 1 with an 0-5 record and former Miners coach Mike Price was interim coach the final seven games. Kugler was 18-36 (11-22 Conference-USA) is his fifth season when he stepped down.
“We’re not going to make predictions,” Dimel said. “We’re going to get it turned around as quick as we possibly can but we’re not going to take shortcuts. It needs long term consistency. I’ve been through the battles of a turnaround and the key is to keep the objectives high but realistic.”
Dimel’s hiring came shortly after Jim Senter was hired as UTEP athletics director on Nov. 22.
“If you’re in college athletics you’re always thinking about a coaching search,” said Senter, who came to UTEP from The Citadel. “If not, you’re behind the eight ball. When I applied for the (AD) job, I knew the (football) job was open. Your mind starts down that path of what is the right fit: High character, great integrity, a great recruiter who can evaluate talent and develop talent, the ability to move the football and score points. But it’s not about how many yards you can put up, it’s how many games you can win.
“He has a plan,” Senter said of Dimel. “He has a demonstrated ability to build a program. It’s amazing what they did at K-State and he was part of that under coach Snyder. We couldn’t have found a better fit.”
Dimel, 55, played at K-State and spent 20 years on Snyder’s coaching staff in three different stints around head coaching jobs at Wyoming and Houston. He has been back at K-State for nine years as offensive coordinator.
“We will miss having Dana and (wife) Julie with us,” Snyder said in a statement released Thursday. “They have been a very special family and have contributed a great deal to the successes we have had. All of the Kansas State family wish them continued success and good fortune.”
Dimel said UTEP was the first head coaching position he sought since being dismissed at Houston, where he had an 8-26 record from 2000-02 following a 22-13 mark at Wyoming from 1997-99. He said the timing is right with his son, Winston, a junior on the K-State football team and his daughter, Josey, entering college.
“I wasn’t that assistant that felt I had to go get a head coaching job,” he said. “I did my research on this program and threw my hat in the ring when I saw it was a fit for me. I want the gratification of turning this around.
“There is so much that can be done here. There is so much potential. Everything we do will be in a positive manner and a consistent positive attitude. We’re going to make this a great place to play college football and we’re going to have a great time doing it.”
Dimel is in the process of assembling a staff, which he hopes to have in place by January 1. He wouldn’t comment on specific candidates but former K-State linebackers coach Mike Cox is considered to be a potential hire as defensive coordinator.
“I can’t comment, but I have guys in mind,” Dimel told the El Paso Times.
Dimel will remain on the K-State staff through the conclusion of the season with the Wildcats playing UCLA in the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 26 in Phoenix. He will arrive in El Paso on Dec. 27.
“I’ll do my job at Kansas State, I’ll watch tape to evaluate (UTEP’s) personnel, to evaluate recruiting personnel and, oh, I’ll put together a staff. That’s all,” Dimel, with a laugh, told the El Paso Times.
As for Dimel’s replacement as K-State offensive coordinator, the potential exists for an in-house promotion among Sean Snyder, associate head coach/special teams coordinator; Andre Coleman, pass game coordinator/wide receivers; and Collin Klein, quarterbacks coach.
Outside possibilities include Michael Smith, the former Wildcat receiver and coach who was on Bret Bielema’s recently-fired Arkansas staff, and Jerry Kill, who spent the 2016 season at K-State as associate AD for administration and returned to coaching this year as offensive coordinator at Rutgers.
REESE TO TRANSFER — K-State defensive end C.J. Reese announced on his Twitter account that he will transfer after the Cactus Bowl.
The 6-foot-1, 26-pound junior from San Antonio has one tackle this season. He will have one year of immediate eligibility as a graduate transfer.
“Thank you to Kansas State University, Coach Snyder, Football Staff and all my Brothers (Teammates) for the amazing 4 years,” Reese posted on Twitter. “I’ll be transferring for my last year of eligibility and will be finishing my last game as a Wildcat at the Cactus Bowl. It has been a wonderful experience and made great friends that will last for a lifetime. Forever a Wildcat. #Family.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.